« FöregåendeFortsätt »
going over the same ground again and again, in the simplest language, and with varying illustrations, has its effect; and one woman after another, who has been living regardless of religion, comes back, and asks help in preparation for Sacraments, and turns over truly a new leaf. There is always, apparently, some work of this kind going on amongst the little party that meet on Sundays, and they have a Bible class on one night in the week, to deepen the effect.
A third experiment: the getting hold of the ragged children. There had long been a Sunday-school for the respectable, but the poor little dirty objects that crowd the back streets would never have ventured within its doors. It was therefore decided to try a Ragged Breakfast School, such as is so well known to readers of Our Work. Rents being exceedingly high, it was very difficult to find any available room, but one was at last discovered, something like a Canadian log-hut, in a narrow alley called Bridle Lane. It is over a stable, and is reached by a dark, narrow staircase, but is light and well ventilated, and looks well, brightened up with pictures and texts, while one part has been fitted for the holding of Mission services, and is curtained off when the room is used for simply secular purposes. Here, then, the children began to assmeble last December twelvemonths. They first go to the children's service at S. Thomas's, then walk in order to school, have a good hot breakfast (the only regular breakfast some of them have at all), and then receive simple teaching. After some Irish roughs were eliminated, and some experience had been gained, the children rapidly improved, in cleanliness, in order, and in knowledge; so much so, that an evening school service has recently been begun, to attract their non church-going parents by the pride and pleasure they feel in hearing their children sing and answer so nicely.
This parish room serves many purposes. On Saturday afternoon the poorest children go there to play, and their mothers are thankful to know that they are in safe hands, and kept out of the streets. They are waiting at the door hours before the time for opening it, and are very happy and well-behaved. So poorly clad, indeed, that there is sometimes hardly a whole shoe among forty or fifty, and they will ask for 'a bit of string, please, to tie the sole on to my foot. In this room also, the Church of England Working Boys' Society, founded last year by the Rev. A. G. Jackson, came into existence,
and here it holds its meetings. So does the Men's Guild of S. Thomas and the Holy Angels. Under superintendence of the clergy or their lay helpers, here is also a weekly class for young thieves, of whom the neighbourhood is terribly full. Here some of them learn by degrees that there are pleasures and aspirations beyond those of taking a till, or catching apples off a barrow with a pin at the end of a long stick when the costermonger's back is turned. (These amusements have the charm of excitement and danger, and must be attractive to minds unimpressed with any sense of duty to one's neighbour.)
By the time the breakfast school was set on foot, we were well into the hard winter which followed on several unremunerative years, and culminated in 'that Tuesday.' The distress was terrible. In this district there are two dead seasons in the year: the early autumn, and mid-winter. The people-tailors, porters, odd-jobbers, sempstresses, and charwomen— depend on the rich for their subsistence, and when the latter go out of town there is no work to be done. Except as to need of coals, they are worse off in August than in December. The London poor are almost always improvident, and few can be persuaded to anything else; but when one slack season succeeds another, and is followed by a winter of exceptional hardness, even the most thrifty are in sore straits, and compelled to 'put away' almost, or quite, all their worldly goods. It was now that the experiment was tried of giving needlework to needy women, instead of assisting them with money. It was intended to open the parish room as a workroom for them, but time has shown that in this neighbourhood, unlike some others, it answers best to give out the work to be done at home. This attempt has also been greatly successful. Needlework is given out from the Mission House, and brought back finished, on two mornings in every week. There are always some women ready and anxious for the work, and as many of them are extremely good needlewomen, they acquit themselves very creditably indeed. Scarcely any money is given from the Mission without its having been thus earned in the first place: a bit of patchwork, or a few dusters, are put into the hands of those who do not profess to know much about work, and by their goodwill in trying to make them is tested their fitness for relief. And so it comes about, that those who are mere
beggars, and are unwilling to work, keep away; while others have their self-respect maintained by feeling that they are not paupers, but earn what they get.
The clothes made by these means, as well as the various garments, old and new, sent for the poor by friends, are disposed of in monthly sales at the parish room. Admittance is by ticket to members of the parish or congregation, the only condition being that the recipients be not in debt to the Mission House. This is found a good preservative against the bad habit of endeavouring to borrow money, which, indeed, it seems undesirable to allow except in very rare cases. The sales are increasingly well attended, and are extremely popular; and, though the clothes are sold cheaply, yet the proceeds are about sufficient to cover the expense of materials and of giving out the needlework. Thus this branch of the mission work may be considered self-supporting, and the beneficial effect which it has had on those concerned has unexpectedly contributed in its little way towards solving those great and difficult questions of the present day -how to avoid pauperising the poor, and how to fill up the widening chasm between them and the rich. For, to turn to the latter question, the poor people understand and feel that it costs a great deal of trouble and time to cut out and prepare, and give out and examine needlework, and know very well that it would be much easier to throw a few half-crowns among them. They know, too, that the sorting and cooking large quantities of food is also no trifle; and they gradually learn affection and gratitude for those whom they perceive to spend on them so much labour of a kind which is within their power of understanding.
But there was yet another class to be thought of, and one generally acknowledged to be very difficult to deal with the young people in the large shops and workrooms of Regent Street and the vicinity. With regard to these, GOD'S hand, which has been so markedly over us for good throughout, has been most especially shown; for a guild, formed of girls drawn from this class, which was begun in January 1881, has gathered into itself a number of steady young women, most valuable as forming a good foundation for such a society, and most unexpectedly valuable to the mission itself by the hearty and persevering assistance they afford. Some teach in the Bridle Lane Sunday-school; one prepares the breakfast there, others keep its
little altar in order; two or three take care of the children on Saturday afternoon, and another dusts the books in the parish library; others visit the sick, and all who can, meet for a sewing party on one evening in the week, when they make up things for the poor. By their guild-obligation they attend a weekly Bible-class, and this is kept up very regularly. And, as their business hours are from eight till eight generally, sometimes later, it is surprising that they find time for so much other work. And it is to be hoped that the pleasure they find in it will induce them to make a lifelong habit of such an occupation.
Attached to this guild is a branch for children, the little girls belonging to which spend an evening weekly at the Mission House, under the care of their elders. Girls are led astray in this most vicious neighbourhood at so very early an age, that it is exceedingly desirable to provide good amusements and friends for them, such as may weaken the force of the temptations around them. GOD grant His blessing to this attempt!
This has been a long story, and perhaps a dull one. It might have been seasoned with exciting anecdotes, and some pathetic pictures of poverty and patience might have been drawn. But we have had rather in mind to show the wonderful way in which GOD has been pleased to mould and to prosper works begun without experience, and almost without funds; with few helpers, with little personal strength, and with many drawbacks. To mould works by taking them up, as it were, Himself, and making them into something more and better than had been at all planned; to prosper them in most unexpected and unlikely ways, clearly designing the life of His servants in this Mission to be one continued exercise of faith and confidence.
There is little or no originality about the work done here, and most or all of its branches are carried out on much larger scales, and far more perfectly elsewhere. And this is only a beginning, very immature and imperfect. Still, even as such it may offer more encouragement to Church workers in similar circumstances than accounts of greater enterprises and successes. For here GOD has been all and man has been nothing. Friends, exceedingly kind, and very few in number, have been raised up for us from most unlikely quarters; funds have come in unexpectedly, but without any assurance of permanence; the exact thing or person we most needed has been suddenly sent to us at exactly the right moment; and in
our greatest difficulties-and they have been many and of long continuance—we have always been upheld, first in one way and then in another.
Many points of our Mission work have not been touched on, lest the reader's patience should be too much taxed; but various new branches, as yet unattempted, might be set on foot if our numbers were larger. We especially wish, in the coming autumn and winter, to attract the men of the parish by classes or lectures, and should be very glad indeed of the help of some educated men for this purpose.
We should be very thankful for more district visitors. Of the very few persons who help us in this way, one comes from New Cross, one from Hampstead, two from Pimlico, one from Paddington. The houses are so thickly populated that a very few are sufficient to form a large district. Permission is also needed for collecting broken food at more houses, and hampers of fruit, vegetables, or flowers from the country would be very acceptable. So would cast-off clothing, books for the lending library, toys for the children, and especially just now, tickets for Convalescent Homes.
We are also glad to receive orders for underlinen, &c. (in proof of its being well done we may mention that Worth et Cie, of Hanover Street, supply us regularly with work for our women). But chiefly we beg for prayers and for thanksgivings. With all its imperfections, this has been a work of prayer and of the showing forth of GOD's power throughout. Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the LORD GOD of Hosts.'
S. Thomas' Mission House, 14 Golden Square, W. Contributions should be addressed to The Sister in Charge.
Or, the Growth and Formation of a New Parish. (Continued from July 1881.)
T is just a year since the readers of Our Work had brought to their notice the formation and infant growth of the new parish of S. Andrew, Willesden; and some may possibly be interested to hear what has, by GOD's help, been accomplished since we last addressed them.
Few experiences can relate a smaller beginning of any parochial work than this. A small piece of ground was provided, and a parish priest, endowed with 200l. a year (without a house)—but beyond this, nothing. No buildings of any kind, and no funds to provide them, though the population numbered nearly 1,000 persons, who had come to live in the newly built houses, and has since been increasing every week. A mere handful of these were even nominally Church people, none of them Communicants, and almost all of them shared a house with one or two other families, and therefore were not able, even if willing, to provide building accommodation for their own spiritual needs. Field after field has been mapped out for extensive building operations, and whole streets have come into being during the past year.
Some idea of what is needed in breaking new ground like this may be gathered from a statement of the organisation that has already been called into existence, to which much yet remains to be added.
In our little iron Church our services are as follows:
On Sundays, 8 A.M., Celebration of Holy Eucharist; 10 A.M., Short Service for Children, after Sunday-school; II A.M., Matins, Litany, and Sermon ; 3.30 P.M., Catechising and Holy Baptism, after Sunday-school; 7 P.M., Evensong and Sermon.
On week days, 8 A.M., Matins daily; 7.30 P.M., Evensong daily; to which are added, at 7 A.M., Celebration of Holy Eucharist on all Holy Days and Thursdays, and Litany on Wednesdays and Fridays at noon.
There is also a Communicant's Class, both devotional and instructional, with an Address, held in Church, after Evensong once in each month; a monthly Office of Intercession said after Litany; and a quarterly Devotional Service, with Address, for the Guild.
The number of baptisms has been, in all, fifty-seven, including several adults; seventeen have been confirmed; and the roll of Communicants has already ninety-eight names, but of these last, no less than forty-three have removed from the parish, and one has been called to his rest.
This will give some idea of the increased difficulty and labour of working up so unformed a neighbourhood, with a population constantly
shifting in search of new employment, or from other causes. Moreover, the disadvantage of having no day school in the district adds materially to the difficulty of recruiting candidates for Confirmation and Communion; and this part of the work has, therefore, been almost entirely carried on amongst adults, who have, for the most part, needed separate and individual instruction.
With no funds at all at starting, either for buildings or current expenses, it was obviously impossible either to build day schools, or to maintain them when built; so a School Board, not for this district only, but for the whole parish of Willesden, with its 27,397 inhabitants, has been imminent from the first, and has actually been elected during the present week. This has, of course, increased the importance of efficient Sunday-schools in this district; and, having begun with seven children, we have now sixty-six on our books, and have had at least double that number altogether, but the removal of parents, as mentioned above, keeps up a constant ebb and flow in numbers, though there is some slight increase steadily going on almost every week. In addition to the morning and afternoon schools on Sunday, we also purpose (D.V.) in August to open a Saturday school, for religious instruction only, when a large increase of scholars is anticipated, and the need of our permanent Mission Station will be more than ever felt, as we have at present only one small iron building for use both as Church and school.
During the past year we have secured a Parish Room adjoining the Church, which is available for parochial meetings and instruction classes. Here are held fortnightly meetings of the Guild of District Visitors and of Sundayschool Teachers, and weekly Mothers' Meetings, and an Instruction Class for Boys. Here we have also established a Parochial Library, a Club and Reading Room for Men, and a Clothing Club and Penny Bank; and here, during the winter, Children's Entertainments were held every Monday, which have now given place to outdoor amusements till the winter evenings again come round.
Adjoining the Parish Room, we have also opened a Parish Bookstall, under the charge of the Guild, where Bibles, Prayer, and Hymn Books may be purchased, together with various magazines, school materials, stationery, and postage stamps, and S. Andrew's Kalendar, which is
published monthly, and forms the local wrapper of The Banner of Faith.
A Laundry Class has also been established in one of the numerous laundries of the district, where on ironing day some thirty women have the opportunity of being read to, and obtaining some religious instruction, while at their work. From this account of our work we must go on to mention our
Having begun single-handed, this Trinity season has brought me a newly ordained deacon (Rev. G. P. Trevelyan) to share with me the work which has been fast growing beyond my unaided powers, and for whose help I cannot be too thankful. The two district visitors are now augmented to six, and we have seven teachers in the Sunday-school, and a 'Sister' who takes charge of permanent invalids, any special cases in sickness, and manages the Maternity Society which has been lately formed.
Our appeal in Our Work last July brought us three or four lady-workers from London, but unfortunately in every case health and kindred causes obliged them to give it up after a few months; and we shall be very thankful if other ladies in the N.W. district of London, or the suburbs, who have time at their disposal, would help to supply our rapidly-growing needs. BUILDINGS.
Besides the iron building (which is now used for Church and Sunday-school, and is the first instalment of the Mission Station) we have been enabled to rent three small houses adjoining it, to which we have given the name of S. Andrew's Hostel. The Hostel comprises not only the Parish Rooms, Bookstall, &c., mentioned above, but also apartments for the Caretaker, lodgings for the Assistant Curate, and also lodgings for young men engaged in the city, who prefer to live a little way out of town, and enjoy Church privileges and country air. These latter have a 'common room' for their meals, &c., and each a separate bedroom. At present there is accommodation for four such lodgers, but only one vacancy; and though it is not necessary that those who live at the Hostel should give any part of their time to parochial work, yet it is matter for thankfulness that all the three who are there now are devoting a considerable amount of their time to Sundayschool and choir, as well as to the Parochial Library and Boys' Cricket Club. The frequency of metropolitan trains which run to and from
Willesden Green station every ten minutes, makes the Hostel a convenient place for city clerks to live at, and the sons of country clergy and others who have appointments in town may find here the companionship of others, who are content to live quietly and economically, with no other restraint than the unwritten rule of honour, response to which has never been lacking yet.
I may mention here that to supply a want, for which, more than once lately, application has been made to me, I am willing (when there happens to be a room vacant) to receive at the Hostel clergy who may be coming up to town for a few nights, or laymen who, on application, will kindly forward some clerical introduction.
It is a subject of congratulation to add here that besides the small plot of ground, to which allusion has been made above, and which is now destined to be the site of our present Mission Buildings, another and a larger site for both Church and Vicarage has been provided, in a very eligible position on the main road, known as Willesden Lane.
In all probability, however, it must be some years before sufficient funds can be gathered to build so large a Church as will be needed; and, therefore, our more immediate attention is now being turned to the completion of the Mission Station by the addition of a large Sunday-school Building (to accommodate 300 children) to our present iron structure, and to provide kitchen and other offices, so as to make that, in future, available for the Men's Club and Coffee Room, instead of the rooms now rented for that purpose at the Hostel.
As soon as this large building is added, we purpose to move the furniture of the temporary church into it, and so make it available for services with increased accommodation, until the church itself can be provided.
Funds for this purpose are very urgently needed. The Bishop of London's Fund gave us last year a grant of 500l. for our Mission Station; but, in spite of all our efforts to raise funds to meet it, we have hitherto been unable to put the work in hand, and the grant consequently lapsed at the expiration of twelve months.
I am thankful, however, to say that on representing the peculiar circumstances of such a district as this, with its artisan population and its pressing needs, the grant has been renewed, but only on condition that the building is
actually raised during the present year. To do this, not a week ought to be lost in beginning it, but a further sum of about 500l. is yet needed; and since there is not a single parishioner who can serve on a building committee and share with me whatever responsibilities that may involve, it is quite impossible for me to undertake such responsibilities alone, until at least the greater part of that sum has been contributed.
I ought here to acknowledge, with much thankfulness, the liberality of one who resides beyond our own border, and the very widely extended sympathy of those whose smaller contributions have already amounted to about 700l. towards the Mission Buildings, exclusive of the grant mentioned above, besides various sums for other objects. Of these, the most important by far are the contributions to our Clergy Fund, which have enabled me to obtain clerical assistance which would otherwise have been quite impossible. The stipend of assistant clergy in a district like this must necessarily depend wholly on Voluntary Contributions. The offertory, at present at any rate, cannot do more than meet our current expenditure; and though our working-class population has done, I think I may say, extremely well in contributing to our offertory during our first year 1097., yet we cannot hope to rear buildings, &c., without the aid of a widespread sympathy amongst Churchmen and Churchwomen everywhere.
On this, under GOD, we confidently rely; and appeal to the readers of Our Work to do what they can, and that quickly, to enable us to save our grant of 500l. by beginning to build at once; and to provide for the stipend of the clergy who may be led to give themselves to the uphill and difficult work that is before us here.
I ought not to close this account of work done, and funds already raised, from a beginning of nothingness, which GOD has certainly largely blessed, without adding that failure has attended many an effort, and disappointment again and again trodden upon the heels of our joy and thankfulness, in the lapse of some who have been under instruction and again fallen back to the world which we had hoped they had left behind. But amidst all the encouragement and blessing of GOD's hand upon our work, it would be only ingratitude to dwell upon its disappointments, whilst, on the other hand, it might seem dishonest not to allude to them. Those who